JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it… John from Jacksonville:
Dante Fowler Jr., the Jaguars' top pick in last year's draft, was lost for the season because of a knee injury after just a few plays in practice. I don't believe the Jaguars should depend on his impact in 2016. The knee injury may not be rehabilitated yet – and who really knows if he will live up to his draft status? Is this unreasonable on my part?
John: While your concern isn't exactly "unreasonable," it might be described as perhaps a bit … well, "doomy" and "gloomy." It's also a concern the Jaguars are addressing as best they can. First, they're constantly monitoring Fowler's rehabilitation from a torn anterior cruciate ligament – and reports are that that rehabilitation is going well. Second, they plan on adding pass rushers and defensive line help in the draft and free agency; ideally, the goal for the defensive front and indeed the entire front seven is to have enough good players they will be able to attack in waves. Now, does that mean the Jaguars will have seven guys with Fowler's pedigree/talent? Probably not. He was the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft for a reason, after all. But as much as possible the Jaguars will not "depend" on Fowler next season. (Though obviously they would think it really, really "cool" if he played at a high level).
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
What do you think is the probability of Josh Scobee kicking in the NFL again? After the disastrous events in Pittsburgh last season, does he get another shot? From my experience, I thought good kickers lasted a lot longer than this usually … Morten Anderson was like 70 when retired finally, right?
John: Yes, I think Scobee will get at least one more opportunity to kick in the NFL.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Will Marcedes Lewis be back with the team in 2016?
John: Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said last week during the NFL Scouting Combine that he believes there's a good chance Lewis will be re-signed before free agency begins next week. The Jaguars want to retain Lewis and Lewis wants to return; players usually re-sign when that's the case.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
While I still definitely expect the Chiefs to retain Eric Berry, what impact could him previously having a cancer diagnosis have? Could that, and would it be fair if it did, deter the Chiefs or other teams from signing him to a long-term deal?
John: The Chiefs placed the franchise tag on Berry Tuesday; either way, a team's approach with a player in Berry's situation wouldn't be about being fair. It would be about being prudent. Berry returned and played at a Pro Bowl level last season. My guess is most teams would view the diagnosis in the same way they would view an injury. There always is a chance a player will be out during a contract. That's a risk teams take.
John from Cape May, NJ:
On film, Noah Spence looks explosive coming off the edge. At the combine, he tested as just an average athlete. So which player is he? The speed demon coming off the edge or Andre Branch?
John: Trust the "film."
Kevin from Jacksonville:
The Jacksonville Jaguars should make this easy and pick the best player in the draft: Noah Spence. We have wasted a lot of lottery picks already. Why not take a chance on the best talent at a position of critical need?
John: Well, there are a few reasons. One is Spence has a history of failed drug tests in college. Another is he didn't run particularly well at the combine last week. I'm not saying the Jaguars won't take Spence, but if you're asking, "Why not …?" those are a couple of reasons.
Levi from Bloomington, IN:
You say you wouldn't take Jaylon Smith until the fourth round? I'd personally be happy getting him with our second-round pick. The way I look at it, we should have impact from Fowler and our first-round pick this year. I think we could afford to take an elite talent who won't play a year. That's just me, though.
John: Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith without question is an intriguing prospect – perhaps the most intriguing prospect in this year's draft. If you absolutely knew he would recover fully from the knee injury he sustained late last season, then sure … taking him in the second round would make sense. It might even be close to an easy decision. Here's the thing: you don't know that Smith will fully recover. Around the Combine, the injury was compared to that of Marcus Lattimore, the South Carolina running back who was drafted by the 49ers in a similar situation in 2013 and never played in the NFL. I have no idea if Smith's injury is the same as the one sustained by Lattimore; if a team is confident the situations are different then you could see him go in the second round. Otherwise …
Justin from Tallahassee, FL:
I saw a mock draft with us taking Jalen Ramsey at No. 5 and Keanu Neal in the second round. Even if we signed a pass rusher in free agency, do you see us going secondary in the first two rounds?
John: Who else are the Jaguars going to sign in free agency?
Neil from Gloucester, UK:
Dear Sir John of Oehser: Free agency and draft are really confusing me. Everyday there seems to be a list of players bandied about as possible free agents and draft picks for the Jaguars. A player may look attractive on a board of players eligible for free agency (or the draft for that matter), but isn't the question not how good the player is but how good would the player be in 'our' system. Or Not! I don't know! If that is the case, I think it quite likely the Jags pick a player at No. 5 that perhaps isn't even in other teams' Top 30 of ranked players! Or should I ignore free agency reports and mock drafts? Are mock drafts just for fun? Your help in this matter would be much appreciated.
John: Realistically? Most everything you read on the internet about the draft or free agency is for fun. Actually, most anything you read on the Internet about the NFL is for fun; this is, after all, entertainment and very much not more important than that. In answer to your question, fit indeed is important. If a team can't find the right role for a player, he may never reach his potential. For that reason … yes, a player absolutely might be graded differently by one team than another. I think most players would have a high grade on any player the Jaguars take at No. 5, but you could certainly see that player's grade vary from draft room to draft room.
Jason from Jacksonville:
Arguably one of the Jags' biggest issues in 2015 was stopping teams on third down. Conventional wisdom at this point seems to lean against taking a linebacker, but man O Man (See what I did?) … Lightning front four with Myles Jack and Telvin Smith at linebacker. Johnathan Cyprien as a hybrid linebacker/defensive back and four other defensive backs sure sounds nice … and fast. One fer Jack.
John: There actually is very little argument the Jaguars' major defensive issue last season was on third downs. There's also little doubt that the faster the Jaguars get – and the better they get on third downs – the better. I still believe pass rusher could be Priority No. 1 – even on draft day if the right guy is there – because a good pass rush can make a defense seem awfully fast.
Matt from Bradford, England:
John, how easy is it for a front office to disregard a poor Combine performance? I know they say it causes people to look at the game tape again, but if that checks off, is it easy to look past a poor performance at the Combine?
John: A front office typically wouldn't "disregard" the Combine performance in the case of a player on which they had a high grade. More accurately, it would cause a front office to reassess and recheck the player. Did the front-office personnel anticipate the player would perform poorly in some combine drills? If so, then the Combine performance would matter very little. If the results were surprising, the front-office personnel would try to determine why – and also would factor in the player's Pro Day. If the player performed well at his Pro Day after a bad combine, then the Combine performance probably wouldn't matter much. The Combine is part of the big picture. A bad performance there will receive notice, but if that's the only bad performance it probably won't hurt a player's draft stock significantly.
Willis from Jacksonville:
How much do scouts consider the players' names? Bosa, Jack, Ramsey - all good football names. Noah Spence sounds like a fictional detective.
John: And to think … we still have 56 wonderful days until the April 28-30 2016 NFL Draft.
O-Zone: Less than two months
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it… John from Jacksonville: